Human Rights Activists: The Top Activists and Movements

Human Rights

It seems like fighting for change by taking action outside of your comfort zone. Activism is a word that has been around for decades, but it’s likely to be buzzed about more than ever in the 21st century.

Human rights activists are alive and well. It’s just not what you think it is. If you’re picturing people shouting in the streets, holding protest signs, or yelling at members of Congress on T.V., then I’m sorry to burst your bubble. That’s not what modern activism looks like anymore.

Human Rights Activists Examples

The most common characteristic among these movements is civic engagement and links between activism and education.


The #metoo movement, for example, was started by Tarana Burke in 2006 to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment.

Although the hashtag didn’t start trending until 2017, it eventually became adopted by actors like Alyssa Milano who were taking part in the #timesup campaign against sexual misconduct from famous personalities such as Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby.

Milano’s tweet has been retweeted over 500 thousand times since posted two weeks ago. Many want people worldwide to share their own stories via Twitter using #metoo in solidarity. Other celebrities used Instagram and Facebook to share the campaign.


Started by writer Emily Lindin after the rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein came to light.


We won’t be erased started among many other groups speaking up for gay rights while politicians debated whether or not “transgenderism” is a medical condition in California.

Human Rights Activists List

Ava DuVernay

A film director, producer, and screenwriter has created films that explore race, gender, and identity from America’s past and present.

She has directed several cinematic adaptations of books, including The New Jim Crow (a book about the mass incarceration of African Americans after the civil rights movement), which she adapted into a documentary for Netflix; Selma (based on the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery), 13th (about slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration); and A Wrinkle in Time (about a 13-year-old girl who travels through time to save her father).

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is an English primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace.

While studying chimpanzees in the wild in Tanzania, she rose to fame but later became known for her conservation and animal welfare work. Her book “Seeds of Hope” details how she learned that all humans are connected and other living things.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan but grew up mainly in England, where she began writing about life in Pakistan and her campaign for the right of every child to have access to education.

As of 2016, she is ranked number one on The Guardian’s “Young Feminists List” and Forbes Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women” list.

Penny Mordaunt

The U.K.’s Minister of State for International Development was appointed on June 14, 2017, following Gavin Williamson’s promotion to Defence Secretary.

In 2013 she became the first female Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and, in 2015, became the first woman to serve as both an MP and Lord Lieutenant simultaneously.

Angelina Jolie

Jolie is an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. She has received three Screen Actors Guild Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and was made a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations in 2013.

Millie Bobby Brown

An English actress, model, and singer rose to fame in 2016 after being Eleven in Netflix’s hit science fiction drama series Stranger Things.

She was the first person ever to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at age 13 for her performance in season 1 of the T.V. series.

Emma González

A Cuban-American activist and gun control advocate became widely recognized after giving a speech in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018 in Parkland, Florida.

At the March for Our Lives rally held in Washington DC, González gave an impassioned speech criticizing politicians for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association and called out Donald Trump by name.


The people that we have highlighted here are all working to make the world a better place. They often do this by confronting injustice, inequality, and oppression in their own unique ways.

Whether it’s through social media campaigns or large-scale protests, they are making an impact on our society every day. We hope that you’ll join us too. Remember: change starts with each of us.


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